Diary Entry 5

 

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Well, it’s the second day of depression, and I haven’t jumped off a bridge or taken any medication, so that’s good. I am still feeling quite apathetic about everything. It’s as if nothing interests me anymore, and everything is boring.  Even the words I am typing right now take a tremendous deal of effort. Everything is painful, and difficult.

I’ve never really felt like I’ve belonged anywhere before. I never had a group of friends, or people who I could hang out with and feel good around. Because I’m depressed, even as I write this, I feel the urge to stop and just lie on my bed and waste away the hours, but I’m not going to do that because it’s not good for my mental health. The urge to kill myself is getting very strong, though I’m still afraid to act on it so it’s likely I won’t be hospitalised any time soon. What was I talking about? Oh, yes. The point, again, by the way, of these diary entries, is for you, dear reader, to feel as though I am sitting with you, and having a conversation. Likely it will be a very boring sort of conversation, with a very sad and melancholy sort of person, but I hope, if you are feeling lonely yourself, or perhaps just might be interested in what I have to say, will glean some comfort or hope from my words. I’ve always been pretty much a loner. It’s strange. I just can’t seem to properly connect with people. Whenever I meet someone and speak to them, we only talk of trivialities, and there’s no deeper connection between us, no spark. I don’t think I’ve met someone ever in life with whom I’ve had an abiding connection with, a sense that we perhaps met in another life, or something like that, and have known each other before. I feel very lonely.

And it’s more than loneliness. I feel alone in my view of life and the world, which is a very bleak one. I don’t know what it is that keeps other people getting out of bed in the morning and living their lives, it’s incomprehensible to me, because everything in the world, when you are depressed, seems so pointless and meaningless. Other people live, laugh, work, eat, breathe, have families, go on holidays, and I feel myself to be entirely removed from that sphere of life, standing on the outskirts and looking in through the window. My greatest fear is that I will live a boring life, doing nothing very much in particular except working, never get married, never be a part of the normal flow of things, and then die, childless and unloved, of old age, in hospital, of cancer or heart failure. I can’t exactly explain it—but I always feel like I’m standing on the outside, looking at other people and their lives, and seeing how wonderful or at least satisfying their lives are, while I am completely lost, on my own, filled with insecurities and loneliness. I don’t know where I fit in. When I look at nature, at trees and grass, at the sky, I see only mindless apathy, an indifference beyond belief.

 

I’m also going through a pretty bad creative slump, and am so tired from lack of sleep for several nights glands inside my neck have swollen up and are very tender and painful. Really, do read this just to feel better about yourself, because all this post is is a litany of complaints on my part. I am going through a major creative slump when it comes to my writing. Normally I have a wealth of ideas—a while ago, I did—but now, the river of inspiration has run completely dry and I am left beached on the dry banks, heaving and spluttering. Writing isn’t an easy job, but it’s never been this bad before, and I am afraid I will never achieve my writing dreams. Granted, I am only nineteen, but that makes no difference; I’m too impatient and overeager, and wish I could snap my fingers to improve my writing prowess, just like that. Okay, now, just then, I felt another powerful urge to stop writing this blog post. To just give up. That’s what depression wants you to do, to relinquish everything and give yourself over to nothingness. I won’t. I will stand strong, and firm. I know I have what it takes to write a good book, but it’ll just take a great deal of time and effort, maybe even years of hard work. But I’ll get there eventually. I think in life it’s very important to follow your heart and listen to what it has to say. What feels right is generally the correct thing to do, and for me, writing does feel right, it feels like the thing I was born to do, and so I will keep following my heart, the trail of happiness, to wherever it may lead me.

 

Diary Entry 4: Depression

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Life, for me, has always seemed lonely and terrifying. I am afraid of everything. I am afraid of being ordinary, of being stupid and never achieving anything worthwhile over my lifetime. I am afraid of boredom. I am afraid of never finding someone to marry because of my mental issues and dying alone and childless. I am afraid of the night. Heck, I’m even afraid of walking down the street by myself, not because I think someone will or attack me or anything like that, but because whenever I do so, with the cars whooshing past on the roads, and everyone else going about their business, I feel a loneliness so overwhelming I can hardly bear it.

It’s as if everyone else has an in-built self-comforting device that I wasn’t born with. I can’t soothe myself. I don’t think, since the day I was born, I have ever felt completely calm and collected in my entire life. I’m pretty sure even as a baby in my mother’s womb I was having some kind of panic attack, getting riled up over something only an unborn baby could fret about, like choking on the umbilical cord or coming out between my mother’s legs the wrong way, headfirst instead of feet. I get anxious about my looks, because I feel like I shorn sheep now that I’ve cut my hair really short, and the sense of ugliness is something I carry around with me like a dirty shawl, old and unkempt. I can barely even pick up a book and read it these days because all words do is remind me of the writing dreams I once had and which now seem so very much out of reach and impossible.

I’m a mess. I’m neurotic, insane (I’ve had a psychotic episode before, where I thought I was an angel sent on a mission by God, and was found wandering the city late at night by the police) and crazy. I’m a tight spring, always coiled up, and I feel completely alone in my misery. As a child, books and films soothed me, but now that I am older, reality has pushed itself right into my face, and it’s leering at me, grinning a mouth of dirty teeth, and I can’t look away from it, I simply cannot. I’m too afraid to kill myself at this point, but I don’t feel as though I can continue living in reality any longer. Even the words I am typing right now are disgusting to me, because I am in a state of mind where I loathe everything I write and everything I think or say is pathetic and useless.

 The best way I describe what it feels like to be suicidal is that it’s like you’re dangling over a precipice, and holding onto a string. The string is keeping you from dropping to your death, but only just, and with every passing second the string starts to break apart further, so that any moment, it could snap completely and send you plummeting into the abyss. I am holding onto that string, with my eyes tightly shut, hoping it will not break, yet terrified that it will.

To try and not kill myself, I have been trying to remind myself of all the wonderful things life still holds for me. I still have people I would like to meet, friends I can make. I might start a family one day, have a loving husband and children of my own. While I doubt I will get published, I will have some sort of job or work eventually, and perhaps gain some satisfaction from that. Sometimes, I will save up enough money to go on holidays, and that would be nice. Yes, just a nice, ordinary life, with its small joys and hopes, is what I am looking for; and it is these things I am clinging onto while every part of me screams at me to down a whole heap of pills in one go or jump off the bridge near my house. Writing on this blog, too, is helping me, and perhaps it will help anyone else out there who is struggling with depression or self-loathing.

When I get depressed, I hate everything about myself. I hate what I write. I hate the words I say—they seem boring and pathetic. I hate my own thoughts, I hate the way I sit, the way I move, I hate my own reflection, I hate the sound of my own voice. I don’t understand people who seem so calm and happy all the time. What is their secret, I wonder? What is it that makes me different from them? Am I just strange, defective? Broken?

The problem is, I don’t know who I am. I really don’t. I’m turning 20 this year, and still have no idea who I want to be or what I want to do with my life. Since my studies haven’t started, I have very few friends and people I can talk to, and even when I go to public places, like the shopping centre or the library, where I am surrounded by people, I still feel sad and lonely because I have no-one to talk to or confide in. I don’t know what it means to be human, and I’m puzzled as to why I was born in the first place. I’m puzzled as to why people have children, and I’m puzzled as to how everyone can be happy and satisfied with their ordinary lives, when I feel as though only something extraordinary could ever possibly make me happy.

What I hate most of all is my own ordinariness. I will live a boring, lower-or-middle-class life, spend my days engaged in ordinary activities, and then one day end up at hospital, dying in a great deal of pain. Is there more to life than this? Surely there is. Surely there must be something out there in the world which is fresh and exciting. Surely I can’t possibly languish in this hell-hole for the rest of my life. But what is there, except for reality, for trees and food, parks and stations, buses and trains? No matter who dies or cries or screams, life goes on, as it has always done, and always will.

There’s no-one I can turn to. In life, you are truly alone. Or perhaps that’s just me. Other people have boyfriends, spouses, husbands, family members they can rely on, but I feel no affinity with my mother and brother, no connection to them whatsoever. No knight-in=shining-armour is going to come waltzing into my life on the back of a white horse and come save me, that’s just not how reality works. Reality is the worst. It is ugly and terrible. Flowers bloom for a little while, but then they must wither, and that is reality, withered flowers, dead and gone. I wish I knew who I was. I wish I had never been born. I wish I had some answers. I wish I didn’t want to kill myself. I wish I could wave a magic wand, and make all the pain and loneliness, all the confusion and despair, just disappear.

20 Habits of INFPs

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  1. Taking different routes to places because they feel more “unique” and “exciting”, like following fairy trails or something like that.
  2. Always trying very hard to focus on the other person and their face when speaking to them, in case we look like we are bored and are daydreaming, as we often are.
  3. Unable to resist the urge to try and befriend cats, and always getting disappointed when they turn out to be wild, feline creatures who do not warm up to us as much as they should.
  4. Falling in love with someone from afar. That’s it. There’s no plot twist, no ending: the only thing that happens in this love story is that the young woman or man pines beneath the balcony forever, while everyone else happily goes on with their lives, including the object of their affection.
  5. Wanting to be a writer but unable to realise this dream completely because of one’s scatterbrained nature or the reality of earning an income in this world.
  6. Scrolling through career options late into the night for the same careers or jobs—childcare worker, nurse, and other “caring” careers—just to reassure yourself that you do have some utility in this world despite your daydreamy nature.
  7. Feeling an urge to drop everything and escape to a farm somewhere and never letting this urge become a reality. Because INFPs, in case you haven’t noticed, are not good with reality.
  8. Wanting to escape into fictional worlds and lives for all eternity so the realities of life, such as earning a living in this world, never have to be faced.
  9. Feeling so lost in life in terms of career options you could scream, because it seems you were born for nothing more than sitting around in meadows, picking flowers and philosophising on the meaning of life. Unfortunately for us, no-one in their right mind would pay someone to do that.
  10. Making a decision to eat only organic and healthy food because that way one is more “in balance” with nature, but then giving it up because junk food is too tempting and you get too depressed not to rely on it sometimes.
  11. Contemplating, after realising how limited one’s career options are and how most of the ones INFPs seem suited for pay not very much at all, how bad would homelessness be, really, I mean, as long as you’re not starving it can’t be too bad, right?
  12. Wishing you were born into a different family, one that was able to nurture your sensitive, creative nature instead of trampling all over it, or worse, ignoring your “special needs” as an INFP offspring.
  13. Being unable to find things. Period. I don’t know about you, but there seriously must be an invisible wormhole following me around for much of my days, because that’s the only plausible reason I can give for losing everything I own.
  14. Gazing wistfully at other people and their lives and wondering how they manage to have it all together so well, so perfectly- poised and comfortable and happy. I can’t remember the last time I was utterly comfortable and happy in this world.
  15. Watching episodes of your favourite TV show instead of doing more important things, like chores. Actually, scratch that—reading books instead of doing chores, because reading is a much more pleasurable activity than pretty much anything else.
  16. Completing chores improperly. What do you mean, the dishes are still a little greasy? And that spot on the floor, I missed it? Well, I must have been thinking of something else.
  17. Getting lost when you go to new places and panicking to no end because when you get lost, you feel like you’ve fallen off the edge of the Earth and will never find your way home again.
  18. Rescuing tiny creatures, like slugs or ants, saving them from being flushed down the drain or drowning in a puddle of water. Because you care.
  19. Always being the friend who supports/admires/helps/compliments the other louder and more rambunctious friend, while silently daydreaming and writing on the side whenever you think the other friend isn’t looking.
  20. Having a long list of coping mechanisms for dealing with the realities of life—such as writing lists like these, eating junk food, and watching various movies—that do nothing whatsoever to help you to deal with the realities of life.

Ways the World Could Be A Better Place For INFPs

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INFPs should have their own island. There, I said it, but it’s true: I sincerely believe that placing all INFPs on a particular island somewhere, preferably a place abundant in fresh springs and fruits, would be a good idea. So much of the world is industrialised these days, cities filled with bustling and busy people, that the entire planet has almost become a place difficult for INFPs to live on. A quiet island somewhere, a quiet retreat, dotted with clusters of libraries and crawling with cats, would be the perfect place for INFPs to live and flourish, for endless golden days.

Basic universal income should be introduced, whereby everyone is given just enough to live on—the barest minimum—so that way, artistic and creative people, as INFPs often are, can chase their dreams of becoming artists and writers without getting worried they’ll end up on the streets. Introducing a basic universal income will take the stress of money out of life for INFPs, who want very little in terms of material goods, and give us the time and opportunity to flourish in our own quiet and simple ways, without the threat of homelessness or unemployment hanging over us everyday simply because of the way we are—introverted daydreamers aren’t very hot on the job market—or our career aspirations.

The world would be a better place for INFPs if INFPs actually had their own “group” and “leader”, the way some political parties have their own leaders. Working together as  a team, we could advocate  for things for INFPs, such as the construction of quieter libraries, or a lack of discrimination towards introverted daydreamers when it comes to jobs. It would be almost like having your own family, except the famiy would be made up of thousands of other people who are INFPs but strangers, a kind of support network that I imagine would surely be very useful and comforting for many INFPs living in the world today.

Another good idea, as an alternative to the island, is to set up lots of INFP centres around the place, in every country on the globe. These would be safe havens for INFPS, filled with books, cats and other INFPs, for INFPs to go to when their home or work life in the modern world is getting unbearable (as it often does). Entry would require the applicant to fill in a Myers-Brigg test and have it turn out to be INFP, as well as the gauging of the prospective applicant’s personality  by various members of the faculty, and free food and water would be provided, just enough for a person to live on, and here INFPs, in the company of other dreamers, and plenty of books, movies and animals, pillows and dreamcatchers and comfort, would be able to rewind and recover. Everyone needs a refuge, and I can imagine little more perfect than official refuges for INFPs all over the world.

Wanting To Be “Rescued”

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Another personality test I am very fond of, apart from the MBTI, is the Enneagram Personality Test. I have completed this test twice in my lifetime, and each time, I tested as Enneagram Type 4, as many INFPs often do. From reading various descriptions of Enneagram Type 4, one particular phrase remained in my mind, even after all these years: “Fours are prone to fantasizing about a savior who will rescue them from their unhappiness.”

At the time, I brushed it off with a loud, internal scoffing noise. Me, fantasize about being rescued by some Prince Charming, when the only man who I had loved in my life—my father—left me without a backward glance and when most young men wouldn’t know how to save themselves, let alone a “damsel in distress”? That would be rather like a princess wishing to be saved even after all the eligible and brave young princes have been beheaded. I know very well, just like you probably do, that there is no-one to save me or rescue me; in this world, the real world, as they like to call it, all the saving is done for ourselves, by ourselves, and the truth is most people are too busy fending off their own dragons and trying to survive in their own towers to bother about you.

Nevertheless, it kept coming back to me, this phrase, circling through my mind in the quiet seconds and minutes, when I was pouring some water (a luxury, I remind myself, such a luxury to have fresh, clean, drinking water; little reminders like that, as my therapist reminded me, can help keep one positive—she is right) or taking out the trash or cooking or cleaning or making the beds (I sound like a maid, but I do spend a good portion of my time doing those things to help my mother now that I am mostly housebound). You know, just those tiny moments where your hands are busy but your mind is free to wander and explore. A rescuer. Hm. Logically, rationally, I knew very well there would be no-one to rescue me, and each of us live and die quite alone. Love and friendship—why, these are but comforting illusions. Almost everything is an illusion, and out of all the illusions available in the world, I have chosen books and fantasy to immerse myself in, because they, personally, offer the most delight and variety. Any experiences one can have in reality pale in comparison to the worlds one can explore and the lives one can live in books and stories.

But before trying to find out why it was so many dreamers like myself, cynical though we may be, might imagine being rescued from their woes, I tried to figure out what exactly it was people like me needed saving from. Unhappiness was too general a term. It was something else. A certain dissatisfaction with reality bordering on loathing, a dissatisfaction with what life held and what the world contained so uncomfortable we almost feel the urge to skin ourselves to be rid of it. The monotony of our days. The “miserable reality of our days”. The humdrum, everyday, banal, boring state of normality we wake up to every morning. That was what dreamers—Enneagram Type 4s really are basically very melancholy dreamers—desired to be saved from, and many other people besides. We want to feel the adrenaline rush of being alive, living, for euphoria to course through our veins. There’s a reason so many people around the world take drugs, go on holidays, dine at fine restaurants, seek thrills and pleasures: they want to jolt something into their hearts and their brains in order to remind themselves they are really alive. It is so easy to die before the true death comes.

What would, then, be the best method of saving us from this unfortunate situation? What wriggles into our lives and shakes things up and make things look different, changed, more beautiful? Why, love, of course. Of course. Who among us, dreamers especially, wouldn’t want to be whisked away on a romantic adventure to a safe place, and to lie in the arms of someone who can keep us safe, preferably until the end of time? We want, if only on a subconscious level, to be rescued, so we can obtain the kind of comfort and security most of us were lucky enough to enjoy as children, to a return to a time when the world was a place of excitement and novelty, and the present moment the only that existed.

Even today, on my short jaunts into the outside world, I find myself daydreaming, occasionally, for something to “rescue” me from the reality of my days. It certainly doesn’t necessarily need to be somebody—instead, I simply look around, hopefully, for something, anything, to remind me that life is worth living, even when it is boring, meaningless, stressful and hard, as it is the majority of the time. I don’t always find it. Sometimes, it’s an act of kindness I spy, or laughter and friendliness between people; on my good days, just driving past a little bird hopping on the pavement is enough to shoot a small spurt of joy through my heart. On the bad days, well, like the princess in her tower, all I feel is a feeling of dread and imprisonment, boredom at the same old world I find myself waking up in again, desperate to escape the walls of reality and out into a place more strange and wonderful and interesting.

Unlike the fabled princess, however, I don’t need a prince to do that: instead, I have my imagination, I have books, I have my writing, and though I will always yearn for love, always yearn for something “special” to happen, someone “special” to step into my life, change things, make me feel different on the inside, there are myriad little things in life that can save us a thousand times over.

An Imaginary INFP Conversation Written By An INFP With Imaginary Friends

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INFP: He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not—

Friend: What are you doing?

INFP: What does it look like I’m doing?

Friend: Desecrating my garden. That’s your tenth flower.

INFP: Best of ten.

Friend: You do realise that daisies are not an accurate source of information when it comes to determining whether someone loves you?

INFP: Oh, I know. He loves me, he loves me not…

Friend: So why bother with it, then?

INFP: The flowers may not talk to you, but they chatter to me all the time. Sometimes, we even play Chinese Whispers, if the wind is blowing the right way.

Friend: Oh, for the love of God. I mean it. It’s a complete and utter waste of time, the way I see it—and don’t you have a novel you should be writing?

INFP: I know the flowers aren’t actually going to tell me if he loves me or not. I just do it because it’s romantic. When I pluck the petals and whisper the words beneath my breath, I feel like some heroine in a film, lovesick and beautiful, like Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

Friend: Isn’t that a show for children?

INFP: You don’t like Disney?

Friend: Not particularly, no. What’s wrong? What’s wrong with you?

INFP: Not—like—Disney! I’m sorry. Our friendship must come to an end. It has been good knowing you. Shall we shake hands, all melancholy and solemn-like?

Friend: So who is it that you’re pining over this time? Is it the one who works at the grocery store, who smiled at you that one time?

INFP: No. It turns out he didn’t harbor a secret love for me. He was just being friendly.

Friend: You don’t say. So who is it, then? Do I know him?

INFP: Not exactly.

Friend: What kind of answer is that? Wait. Let me guess. You do have a tendency to yearn after the bold and pragmatic, which is frankly beyond me, seeing as they are the exact opposite of who you are, and therefore terribly incompatible. Why do you like them so much? All they do is hurt you with their insensitivity.

INFP: I don’t know, to be honest. I think it’s because they have a soft streak, underneath all the hardness, and I want to get to it and snuggle there, like a worm wriggling its way to an apple’s soft core.

Friend: Okay, well, I did not understand a word of that. If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine. The heart must keep its secrets, I suppose.

INFP: It’s you.

Friend: What?

INFP: Just kidding. There’s isn’t anyone. I’m just plucking these petals for an imaginary person in my head, who I pretended to have met at certain spots throughout the neighbourhood and who sent me flowers on my birthday—imaginary ones, of course. Those are the best.

Friend: Oh! I should have guessed. Dinner’s ready. You can come inside and join me, if you want.

INFP: Okay. Bye.

Friend: Bye.

INFP: He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me! He loves me. Does he? Oh, daisy, is it true? Do you speak the truth? Oh, I so wish you could speak, and tell me, and we could have a good proper conversation about it, person to plant. Well, I suppose I’ll find out. Come on, little flower, let’s go get our dinner.

What Would Happen If An INFP Was Chosen To Compete In The Hunger Games

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One of my greatest peeves regarding The Hunger Games, amongst a host of others—-I’m not too fond the series, in short (Where in the world are the Asians, seeing as this is meant to be a futuristic America? Why do all the African American characters–Rue, Cinna, and Thresh–end up dead?)—is how unrealistic the tributes’ reactions are to being thrown into an arena where they are forced to fight to the death.

There are no panic attacks, no breakdowns; the kids (yes, they’re only teenagers) segue instantly into warrior-mode, and are suddenly able to kill and evade those who want to kill them without blubbering or going crazy. If you or I were actually in a situation where we were forced to fight to the death, we would most likely lose our wits, not get a surge of adrenaline and jump right into getting our hands dirty. Despite the fact that grown men who have had years of training still freeze up in the midst of battle or go crazy from the pressure and the constant exposure to carnage, all the teenagers in the book, at least while in the arena, remain remarkably sane, even after killing others, or narrowly missing death themselves.

It doesn’t make any sense.

But nevermind that. Let’s consider, as the title of this post suggests, what would happen if an INFP were to be chosen as one of the twelve tributes in the next Hunger Games.

First, once the realisation hits, one can expect a great deal of crying, with perhaps a panic attack or two thrown in for good measure. When meeting with her family, most likely for the last time, the INFP will probably sob and beg for them not to take her away, though of course, her pleas will be disregarded.

On the train ride to the Capitol she (or he, but for the convenience of this piece I’ll just refer to the INFP in question in the feminine) will most likely become very, very quiet, and sink into a deep state of existential depression, spending lots of time in her cabin, lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling, or watching the scenery stream past outside the window, pondering over the meaninglessness of death

Eventually, two things will happen. Either the INFP will resign herself to her fate, simply because she has no choice, or she will attempt suicide and then resign herself to her fate after she is unsuccessful in ending her life, not because the knife didn’t penetrate deep enough, but because she found herself unable to stick it into herself in the first place. The attempt will be conducted so secretly, and with so little success, she won’t even kept on close watch by the Capitol authorities so she isn’t able to do it again.

The Capitol is certain to disgust the INFP to a greater extent than the other tributes in the way it flaunts wealth, consumerism and exploitation. Anger will grow in the INFP at the sight of the lavish lifestyles of Capitol citizens enjoy while those living in the districts are poor and starving, smoldering like an old flame beneath her soft exterior, which she will most likely release by eating herself sick, or entertaining private fantasies of revenge.

At the training centre, where she gets a good look at the other tributes for the first time, the INFP will be highly intimidated. If you think about it, being chosen to fight in the violent Hunger Games is kind of the worst situation for a peace-loving person like the INFP to be in. Therefore she is likely to make a wide berth of the dangerous weapons most useful for survival, as well as the other tributes, perhaps even give a little shudder at the keen sharpness of the knives, and spend the sessions keeping her head down and fiddling with ropes and memorizing edible plants.

If she is a little sociable, she might attempt to convince the other tributes to move towards harmony by promising to not to kill each other in the arena and letting the Gamekeepers pick them off one by one instead. As her reasoning will go, if they refuse to kill each other, they will be able to, in their own small way, rebel against the Capitol, as it denies its citizens a good show. Some will consider the idea, but others, the more realistic, will tell her, with a little pity in their voice, that once in the arena, all promises are nothing more than air. If just one person kills, then everyone will start to kill, and the prize, a life free from economic penury, is too tantalising for everyone to resist. No-one will approach her for an alliance in advance, or pay her much attention, because she is too weak to be considered a true threat. In that assumption, they will be correct.

Likewise, during the televised interviews, the INFP is likely to be unmemorable, very shy and awkward, too anxious to reveal any of her deep-seated anger in her answers to Caesar Flickerman’s questions. Her performance in front of the judges will likely involve tying a little fancy knot, and for that, she will receive a score of 1, or 2 if it was a particularly interesting knot and the judges were feeling particularly generous and tipsy by the time it was her turn.

At this point the other tributes will see her as nothing more than a flea, easily flicked out of the way, and if there is someone else also shy and scared amongst the tributes, the INFP is sure to have sensed them and befriended them by now, because in life the frightened and awkward usually have only each other for comfort.

The night before the tributes are released into the arena, the INFP is sure to have another breakdown, a serious one this time, bordering on psychosis, because her imagination will be very good at envisioning how the next day will play out. It will most likely not have a good ending. She will try and find a way to escape, running drunkenly everywhere through the building searching for hiding places or exits, and eventually be found by Capitol staff, weeping and hysterical, and be tranquilised.

When she next awakens, she will find herself in the glass tube traveling traveling slowly upwards into the light. Again, she will become hysterical, start beating at the glass, sobbing, crying out, the thought of composure and preparing herself for the battle ahead never crossing her mind. When the tube finally rises completely into the sunshine, and the countdown begins, the INFP might, if especially brave, deliberately step off the platform early and get blown up than be killed at the hand of someone else, or forced to kill another human being.

More likely, however, when the countdown ends, she will start running for her life towards the woods. Under no circumstances would an INFP ever risk visiting the Cornucopia, as that would mean willingly putting herself in conflict. Instead, if she is not killed in the initial bloodbath, she will keep on running through the woods, crying and panting and hysterical, until she can run not a step further.

It is then, lost and broken and frightened, that she will reach an epiphany, and resolve to win the Games for the sake of her family and her district, to use her victory as a way to rebel against the Capitol. As she made herself seem less of a threat in the beginning, she will go on to evade and slyly kill the other tributes without them ever knowing what hit them, win the Games, and return home traumatized but alive.

Just kidding.

She’ll probably just try climb a tree and conceal herself amongst the foliage, or find some other hiding place inside or under some bushes. There she will stay, in her hiding place, still and quiet, too afraid to expose herself and search for food and water, and if the Gamekeepers don’t interfere, the INFP will probably die, after trying to eat leaves or bark for several days, of thirst.

Because let’s face it, the chances of an INFP winning the Hunger Games are exactly nil.

My Experience As An Asian-Australian Woman

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No. The person in the picture is not me, in case you’re wondering. It just happened to be the best picture I could find for this article which was not copyrighted, and I’d rather not reveal my identity by putting my face, beautiful though it may be, up on the Internet for all to see. Besides, look at his shirt–a kangaroo! It was synchronicity, it was fate, I tell you.

I am Asian. Specifically, Asian-Australian, though if anyone were to ask for my nationality, I would simply say, “Australian”.

Race is important in this world, because people judge others based on what they look like. The greatest tragedy of the world, in my opinion, is that who we are on the outside does not have any bearing on who we are on the inside. You are your mind, your soul—not your body, not your looks, not your skin. Yet, either because of the media, or the way society is set up, we consciously or unconsciously judge each other based on outward appearances. What’s more, different appearances carry different judgments. Someone who is black, and buff, might be construed as threatening. Someone thin and of average height like myself, wearing glasses, might be considered a “nerd”.

This part of my identity has led to much suffering. Growing up in Australia, back when immigrants were just starting to flow into the country, I attended a school where each class was perhaps 85% Caucasian, and 15% other ethnicities, ranging from Asian, to Indian, to Aboriginal. In primary school, I experienced no discrimination due to my race, except for when I was mistakenly placed in ESL English in my first year because they thought I couldn’t speak English. That all changed when I moved to a different state, and started attending a school where the level of minority groups was much higher, as it was an area with a greater immigrant population—each class was perhaps 75% Various Ethnicities, and % Caucasian. Mind you, every single person in these classes was Australian, born in the country, spoke the language, grew up watching Playschool on television, regardless of what they looked like. Yet in this new state, things were different. It was almost as though the increase in the “minority” population had started to make some Caucasian Australians nervous, afraid of being “taken over”. In Australia, there’s this secret desire, amongst certain Caucasians, to keep Australia true-blue Aussie—in other words, white, despite the fact that the colour of your skin or whether you use chopsticks or fingers or your hands or a knife and spoon when you eat dinner determine whether you are a “true” Australian or not. Legally, you are an Australian if you were born in the country. Unfortunately the image of the proper Australian as being sun-kissed, blonde, and blue-eyed still persists, in Australia and overseas.

Towards this end—that is, maintaining the “whiteness” of the country, which is, do I have to say it, an extremely racist thing to do, especially considering we are all immigrants, except for perhaps the Aboriginal Australians, who lived on this land for thousands of years before the first settlers arrived—people have been very creative. For instance, everywhere, in increasing numbers, I see Australian flags being flown, from flagpoles, gardens, cars. In some countries, this might seem patriotic. Not necessarily here. The Aboriginal Australians have a flag, but you don’t see it flying from anywhere. No. The Australian flag, with its blue colour, its union jack, sends a very clear message: this is our turf, unless you’re Caucasian, or born in Australia and therefore properly assimilated (and even then, you’re only perhaps halfway Australian, at best), get off our territory. On Australia day young men have been known to wear it like capes and hurl racial insults at passers-by. Every time I see one—I saw one just yesterday, while sitting in the car; it was flapping beside a front door—I feel a quiet jolt, and not a nice jolt. I wondered how it would feel if I were Aboriginal Australian, and saw that flag, flying everywhere, staking out the territory.

But this silent racism extends to more than just flags. Australian TV is dominated by Caucasian faces, everything from advertisements to the News; should you turn the television on here in Down Under, you would most likely be surprised to be told that we are, in fact, a multicultural society. Representation, on television, in the media, is crucial for affirming one’s racial identity. If you don’t see yourself represented, then the implicit message, sent to your subconscious, is that people who look like you are not beautiful and do not matter. This is one of the reasons why I stopped watching Australian television years ago.

I have also been subject to instances of racism as I got older, which, for someone who desperately wanted to belong, was highly anxious, and hurt by the slightest bit of rejection from anyone, were searingly painful. A boy in a class, many years ago, once told me he ate yesterday’s dinner, pizza, the next morning, for breakfast. I expressed some mild shock at this—after all, for someone health-conscious like me, pizza for breakfast was the equivalent of pouring engine oil down one’s throat and calling it milk. I was anxious about coming up with the answer, as I had rarely spoken to him before. He then replied, “Well, it’s what Australians do,” before asking another Caucasian student to affirm that she also often ate last night’s dinner for breakfast a lot of the time. This implied two things, particularly due to his accusatory tone: 1) He was more “Australian” than me because he did this supposedly “Australian” thing and 2) I was less of an Australian, because I was Asian. If I had been Caucasian, I doubt he would have even made such a comment.

I wish I could have told him, though I was too stung at the time to say a word (repressed resentment is big problem for social anxiety suffers; we often can’t stand up for ourselves verbally) that 1) There is no such thing as an “Australian” habit, because Australians come from all walks of life and are all different; it’s just as Australian to use chopsticks as to eat meat pies and 2) Really, eating pizza for breakfast isn’t healthy. But at the time, I just let it go, sitting there, stunned and rejected after my attempt at social interaction.

My aunt once told me I was lucky that, as an Asian, I had large and “pretty” eyes. It would give me an advantage in society. Only later did I realise it was because large eyes are considered a stereotypically Caucasian feature, and therefore valued. Having “small” eyes would mark you out even further as an outsider. And it’s true. Dami Im, Korean-Australian pop singer, winner of Australian idol some time ago, on her recent album, had her eyes photoshopped to appear preternaturally large compared to her real ones. She has gained little popularity in Australia because she is Asian; after winning, many racists tweets darted her way. This preference for larger eyes is ingrained in the subconscious of anyone who has grown up in a Western society, consuming Western media. Large eyes are beautiful. Small eyes are not. This is racist, and it’s even worse because sometimes the racism can become internalized, causing Asian-Australians to dislike their features.

Little things add up. The way a person behind the counter—this was before my mental health worsened—would cheerily greet a tall Caucasian woman when she came through the door, but ignore me, or say “Thank you, come again” to everyone except me, thrusting the bag containing my purchase over the counter as though it were something to be got rid of. The way a man at a store kept correcting my words, even though what I was saying was perfectly fine. How a woman on a street stopped me to ask, while I was wearing my school uniform, if I spoke English—she was an American tourist, I believe—before inquiring for directions. The way certain people would downplay any of my literary achievements, both students and teachers, trying to “keep me down”.

Remember, throughout all this, I was, underneath, an anxious, hysterical, exhausted, and depressed mess. I was suicidal, because I was sensitive, because I was introverted, and had been pretending, pretending for so long, that I was normal and that I was okay. The racial rejections just made it worse. All these micro-aggressions, piled up over the years, did nothing to help improve my confidence or self-esteem or my mood.

The problem of race even extends over to what I consider my last bastion of hope in the world: books and films. Art. My favourite movies as a child were the Barbie movies: Barbie and the Princess and the Pauper, Barbie as Rapunzel, Barbie as Nutcracker. They are—and I kid you not—works of art, masterpieces, as genius as Studio Ghibli films. They were beautiful, and I loved them, and I watched them, over and over again, almost obsessively. Even today, I can still song the songs, still remember the lines of the characters, every scene etched deep into my mind. I was wonderstruck by them. They shaped my imagination.

Yet, beautiful as these films were, I didn’t know the damage I was doing to myself. Like any little girl who watched the films, I wanted to be Barbie. She was well-spoken, elegant; she got the Prince, so she was desirable; she was beautiful, flawless, intelligent. But she didn’t look like me. Other girls at school looked like Barbie, with their bright blue eyes, and flowing blonde hair, and at least some of them had brown hair, like other female characters in the films. I didn’t. I had black eyes, and wavy black hair, not even straight like Barbie’s, and though I’m not ugly, at the time, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I didn’t look like Barbie.

In fact, none of the characters I read or watched were Asian. Anne of Green Gables, Mary from The Secret Garden, Polyanna, Little Women, Peter Pan, Beatrix Potter books, Roald Dahl books, Enid Blyton books, Felicity Wishes—and on and on it went. The damage, for a long time, was deep. I still haven’t fully recovered. Through films and books, I learned that only Caucasian men were handsome and desirable. Therefore, subconsciously, to be more like “Barbie”, more like Anne of Green Gables, more like all my favourite characters, more like the women on television, in Hollywood movies, the strong and the beautiful, I only had crushes on Caucasian males (and once an Indian boy, because, well, he was cute), shunning Asian males because they did not affirm my subconscious beautiful, elegant and intelligent young lady—you could only be a princess if you had the right prince, after all, and, as an INFP, I was ridiculously idealistic about that sort of thing. Boys, however, no matter the race, never paid me any attention, probably because I faded into the background while the other girls swished their hair and laughed all the time, so that, on top of my already internalized self-hate, tore down my self-esteem even more.

The healing process has been, in the last few years, as I grew aware of how I had been brainwashed, has been remarkably fast. If you want to reduce your racism, whether directed at yourself, or at others, the best way to do this is to watch films from other countries, or movies with diverse casts. Asian actresses Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi, Arden Cho, Jamie Chung, Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, as well as their supporting Asian male cast members, all helped me to learn to take pride in my Asian identity, the ethnicity given to me at birth. I watched Indian films, films starring African Americans. I watched Aboriginal films. I started to watch Youtubers from all different backgrounds.

I started to change my view of the world, and my ideas of beauty., and therefore my ideas regarding myself. Today, I am not attracted to anyone purely based on their race. Any man from any race can be attractive, and the same goes for women. My own brother is living proof of that—he’s quite good-looking, especially as he’s growing into a young man, though I would never admit it to his face, and I’m sure he, as someone without anxiety or any social problems, will do just fine with the ladies. And I fully embrace my ethnicity–really, if I’m not reminded about it in the form of any mistreatment, I often forget what I look like to others, my gender, my ethnicity, my face: I’m just me.

Minority groups, in terms of representation in media, especially Asians, still have a long, long way to go. Most Hollywood movies do not have diverse casts. Most children television shows in Australia do not have a diverse cast. Australian TV is still deeply, deeply racist. Most Disney movies showcase Caucasian characters. Most books features Caucasian protagonists and characters. I don’t have anything against any particular race whatsoever—what I dislike is unequal representation, exclusion, stereotyping, sidelining. People from all different races deserve to be represented as lead characters. They deserve to be shown characters that look like them through the entertainment they consume, or are encouraged to consume. They deserve to be represented in a positive light—and not just Asian people, but all races, especially African American men and women, and Aboriginal men and women, who are, arguably, even more marginalised than marginalised groups. If homosexual people can gain such progress—think Ellen DeGeneres (though if she were not Caucasian, would she have achieved such success, as an openly gay TV presenter?) in society, then so can all racial groups. It’s getting quite old, this business of pretending some people, just because they were born with particular features at birth, are more important, more beautiful, more worthy or better than others.

Hey, I know this is a serious topic. At the same time, it’s also quite a silly one, because we’re all human, and it’s so silly, to differentiate people like this. But I’d be lying if I said my identity, as an Asian woman—you know, like I said, sometimes I even forget I’m Asian, and what I look like, but the world has a habit of reminding me; just a week ago, the lady at the doctor’s who was drawing my blood asked me where I was born, even though I was anxious and I didn’t want to talk—hasn’t coloured my life, my experiences, and my view of the world. I wish I could just sit in my little cave, wrapped up in a dreamer’s ignorance, but I can’t. This is one facet of the real world I must face. I want to live in a world where saying you are “Chinese” or “Korean” creates just as nice of an impression as saying you are “French” or “Russian”. Yes, it’s just skin, in the end, but it’s very important skin because of the value people place on it.

Of course, as a writer, I will doing my own bit to inject diversity into literature by featuring characters from all races and backgrounds in my stories. Oh, it’s just so silly, don’t you think? We are our insides, not our outsides. It’s so very silly. But frankly, compared to my mental health issues, being Asian in the modern world is a piece of cake—that, however, is a topic for another time. In some later posts, I will be writing about the discrimination you will face if you are an extreme introvert, a creative, or highly sensitive. INFPs, for instance, who are introverted, sensitive, and creative, are often mistreated by other people, and discriminated against due to their personality (I think it’s because we’re soft and shy and easily flustered, and that makes us an easy target, or some people just find us childish, strange, or immature and don’t respect who are). The more we talk about issues, and get our voices out there, the better it will be. The more we heal, the more others will.

 

Being Sensitive, Shy, Delusional, Aloof—And Cowardly

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I’m not the most courageous creature around.

From an outsider’s point of view, I probably seem quite the coward; and with bold and brassy being the “New Woman” of today’s age, this has, as you can imagine, done wonders for my self-esteem.

For one thing, I am an introvert. Now, some introverts are the brave and silent type: the ones who lean against walls in school hallways, and in public, speaking very little, but flaring into action should anyone threaten them, or anyone threaten someone around them.

I am not that kind of introvert—and besides, usually the stoic-yet-secretly-soft-hearted-and-self-sacrificing act only works for men, not women. I am not even one of those fetching damsel-in-distress ladies, who screams at all the right moments as the prince or nearby male specimen immolates himself before the dragon’s wrath, dabbing at her eyes with a lacy pocket handkerchief. If such a beast were to stumble into my neighborhood, by the time Prince Charming arrived, he would find me in the middle of several panic attacks, each one overlapping one another, whilst curled up in a fetal position on the floor of my boudoir, waiting for death. Very attractive, no?

Instead, I’m more of the quick-hide-there’s-person type of introvert. The reclusive kind, who occasionally jumps at the sight of her own shadow, and believes, for a split second, heart jolting, that a pile of clothes on a chair, shadowed in the evening light, is in fact an intruder who has snuck into her home. Who flees from people the way some do from raging bulls, and begins stuttering like a broken record if she were, God forbid, addressed by another living, breathing creature. 

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that some might even call me “spineless”. Or perhaps timid, shy. Retiring. Take your pick, really, as it makes no difference, for all those adjectives tend to mean mean the same thing to most people these days. In essence, my spirit animal is the snail, aloof and fragile, who retracts into its shell at the slightest provocation, and is disliked by a great many of the giants galumphing about in the world—a dislike that sometimes extends into the realm of squashing.

Anything which can possibly pose the slightest threat frightens me. I have turned fear into an art form. Just off the top of my head, picked out from an endless list, I am frightened of germs, cars, roads, people, strange people, men, spaces larger than my bedroom, tall people, the outside world, the universe, and silverfish slithering within the pages of books. Each of those has, in the past, been the cause of countless miniature heart attacks. Each of those has spawned its own colony of compulsive, avoidant and repetitive behaviours, ranging from an inability to leave the house to excessive chunks of the day spent meditating thinking about meadows and waterfalls. Frankly, until you have met me, neuroticism can only exist in your mind as a myth.

When it comes to horror movies, I am a complete wimp, and on the rare occasions I do find myself reeled into one—often by my brother, who has so far exhibited a disturbing preference for them over more pleasant films—I invariably find myself either retreating to the bathroom before the opening credits end, or lying awake at night for the next month or so, staring up at the ceiling for hours, too afraid to even leave my bed to go to the bathroom, where undoubtedly some slimy, scabbed arm will come lunging out of the toilet bowl to drag me down to a watery, and unsanitary, death. To give you a better idea of my wimpiness, as a child, I watched the stop-motion film “Wallace & Grommit and the Curse of the Wererabbit” one Saturday night, when it was on television, and promptly developed insomnia for the next ten years.

Not only am I cowardly to an extreme degree—we can prattle on about sensitivities and finely-tuned nervous systems all day, if you want, but the fact of the matter is people like me are often dismissed as wimps the moment others set eyes on us—I am also very, erm, delusional, much of the time. You see, the reason my fear is often so great is because my mind blow everything out of proportion. I attribute it to having an imagination—it is a thought taht provides some small comfort as one wades through the usual series of daily agonies. This nifty little imagination of mine, however, has various other unfortunate side-effects, one of which is delusional thinking, another manifestation of my overall cowardliness.

Let me give you an example. Once, in fifth grade, Yours Truly fell in love with a boy. Oh, this was love, alright. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, couldn’t be in the same room as him without clamming up, or being overcome by a sudden desire to flee, preferably to the farthest reaches of the observable universe, where she would spend her time fiddling with stars to spell his name into constellations he would be able to see in the sky from Earth. He was perfect. Dashing. Sincere. Sensitive.

And she was convinced he felt the same, the signs were all there—until one afternoon he humiliated her in front of the entire class, that is, and she realised, after crying for hours in her bedroom, more out of confusion than anything else, that he viewed her as an academic competitor rather than a love interest. That he, in fact, loathed her, for her intelligence, for her awkwardness, only she hadn’t been able to see it. Her imagination had clouded all sense. In response to such hatred, she had, instead, ardently loved him. Tell me honestly, if you heard this story, whether you would not think the female in question was off her rocker? From that day onwards, she avoided him. Seeing him in the school corridors made her jump. On her deathbed, if he were to suddenly materialize, she would postpone dying and escape from the hospital, just to get away from him.

So, in a nutshell, I am a scatter-brained, flighty, solitary, confused, detached, and, above all, cowardly young lady, whose only solace is her imagination, and writing. The mismatch between myself, and the city life bustling around me, chock-full of dangers at every turn, is so acute as to be excruciating. I would, in a heartbeat, trade my very soul for a lonely cottage out in the moors, beneath a greyish-white sky, with nothing but purplish heather for miles—but then I’d probably be frightened of the wolf howls echoing across the land in the middle of the night, and end up hiding under the bed with my cats, eyes shut and desperately thinking about meadows and waterfalls.

INFPs: It’s Hard, But We’ll Be Okay

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With the way INFPs seem to dominate the Internet, popping up in hundreds on forums, on blogs, you could almost be led to believe that there are quite a lot of us out there, and we aren’t as rare as the studies say.

But that would be an incorrect extrapolation. Fact is, disregarding the 4% statistic sites like to throw around, we are a minority, in that the way we think, feel and view the world is often markedly different from the majority who aren’t highly introverted, creative and emotive creatures—and I have yet to communicate with an INFP who has met another of her or his kind in real life. Our online presence is merely a reflection of our introverted and reclusive natures; and the fact that we tend to find it far easier to form a relationship through written rather than spoken words.

Though we’re not the only special birds in the flock, and there are other rare personality types, like the ENTJ, no other type possesses a combination of traits so wildly unsuited to survival in today’s modern society. ENTJs are highly social, bold creatures, who are energetic, assertive, good talkers, possess sharp intellects, often run their own companies and businesses, and have no trouble fitting in wherever they go. So their rarity provides them a social and economic advantage, their traits assets, not liabilities.

INFPs, on the other hand, and I speak this from my own experience, as well as the experience of other INFPs I have communicated with, have no end of trouble finding their place in the world. No, actually, forget about finding a place: much of the time we struggle not to get eaten and spat back out by everyday life. In the past, I have had people tell me that my descriptions of INFPs were too soft and weak, and that they, as INFPs themselves, were nothing like what I described. But there is a very clear reason for that. Your MBTI is a matter of percentages. For instance, someone who takes the test might straddle right between extroversion and introversion, and feeling and thinking, yet still come up with “INFP” after taking the test. Sometimes, if they were only a few percentages more extroverted, or more reliant on thinking, they would have tested as an entirely different personality type—say, ENTP. So when you take MBTI tests, percentages are a good thing to keep in mind.

It almost goes without saying that the higher your percentages when you receive your INFP result—and there are different percentages for each letter, Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving—the more difficult a time you will have in life. Just for a quick break down of each of the functions: “Introverted” means you like to spend time alone; “Intuitive” means you trust your heart and gut rather than your head and eyes; “Feeling” means you see the world, and make decisions, from an emotional rather than intellectual viewpoint; and “Perceiving” that you favor spontaneity over rigidity and like things vague and open-ended instead of closed, final, concrete. Mix these four functions, in high concentrations, together in a big, old cauldron, add in a dash of pixie dust, and you get an INFP: a loner who compulsively daydreams, is full of intense feelings liable to burst out at inopportune moments, and disordered and messy by nature. Sounds like just the sort of person an employee would jump at the chance to hire, doesn’t it?

I mean, come on, we can make ourselves cry, on the spot, just by imagining a tragic scenario for long enough, which must be the stuff of nightmares for the sensible and pragmatic. We are the ones with disheveled hair and pencils or paintbrushes in our hands who stare out windows and mumble melancholy phrases to themselves whilst standing in a room that looks as though a hysterical raccoon rampaged through it. We lose and forget things on an astonishingly consistent basis; in the middle of sentences we often trail off, caught by some other fancy; and we see everything through rose-colored glasses, so oftentimes we are unsure whether what we know and see is real, or entirely fabricated by our imaginations. Even though I disagree with the sentiment, let’s face it, to most people, if we showed our true selves while out and about (which we often do not; minorities unconsciously try to mold themselves into the majority in order to fit in), we would seem like slightly insane and unruly creatures who need to get our act together, and “grow up”. The lucky ones among us are dubbed “absentminded professors”, while the rest of us get sidelined into all sorts of unflattering categories: too emotional, too sensitive, too quiet, too fantasy-dependent. To the rest of the world, we are never enough, parts of us always needing to be “fixed”; and being so sensitive, we take all these subtle yet constant denigrations to heart and develop low self-esteem, feel self-loathing, which are then amplified by our powerful emotions, which we then react to very strongly because of our sensitivity, often expressed by weeping in solitude due to our introversion– and as we all know suffering undergone alone is often worse than with someone else–which is why I am certain a disproportionate number of INFPs, male and female, find themselves crying into their pillows late at night around the world, wishing they were someone stronger, better, more thick-skinned and capable.

As I said before, this kind of description will not match all INFPs, and the “more” of an INFP you are, the more you will suffer, because you will be more introverted, more sensitive, more disorganized, more emotional, all traits society, or at least Western society, does not value. Your suffering is multiplied if you are a male INFP, possessing as you do traits conventionally considered feminine. I, myself, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, am a severe INFP, calculated at over 85% for each of the functions; and INFPs like me, on the farther end of the spectrum, are often at a greater risk of bipolar disorder, which is basically a condition where you have no emotional skin, and every little thing bothers you and scrapes against your heart, as well as social anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Mental illness among INFPs, in general, is disproportionally high; the combination of strong feelings and strong introversion does nothing for our psychological well-being. 

Another problematic trait of ours often overlooked, both by ourselves and personality websites, is that we tend to be quite self-centered creatures, despite our high levels of empathy. This is in part due to our idealism—after all, what is idealism but a focus, facilitated by imagination, on the way you want things to be?–and in part because we use Introverted Feeling in dealing with the outside world, and are thus highly internal, focused on our own feelings, our own reactions, opinions, internal landscapes and fantasy worlds.

So on the one hand, we are creative, highly empathic, kind and intelligent people; but on the other hand, aloof, melancholy, scatter-brained creatures, lost in daydreams and hurt and bloody from the emotional wars playing out across our hearts—and unfortunately, it tends to be only the negative traits people see, or that we, due to our private nature, show to others. More than any other type, INFPs belong to another age, an era when artists and writers and poets were lauded and appreciated, when Art and ideas were at their flux; the Renaissance, perhaps, or some long-forgotten dynasty.

Thus, here we are then, butterflies trying to maneuver our way through a world run by spiders and hulking beetles. We get squashed. We get caught in nets, in webs. We flutter, here and there, fragile and frantic, so full of zest for life, constantly plumbing the depths of emotion and philosophy, yet almost too delicate to withstand our own uncontrollable enthusiasm.

And of all the dissatisfying aspects of life, the problem of work, of earning a living so you can eat and keep a roof over your head, is the most taxing for us. Our personality simply does not fit the modern workplace. The only jobs I can think of which suit our temperaments perfectly (once again, not applicable to all INFPs), are solitary artistic professions, like writing, painting, sculpture, the skills of which take many years to master before one can hope to make a living from them, and sometimes, in a world of instant entertainment where Art that takes commitment and time to savour is less appreciated than it was in days of old, not even then. Many of us, out of necessity, take on jobs harmful for our souls and psyches in the long-term, unable to find an alternative. Others struggle to finish degrees with rigid course guidelines and involving extensive memorisation, and have trouble dealing with insensitive peers, teachers and co-workers. 

What keeps INFPs going, however, what forms the backbone of our being, is a goal, meaningful to ourselves. Without it, we would die. This might be our desire to help people or animals, to create beauty through our Art, to share our imaginations and bring joy, kindness, love to the world; whatever it is, it acts as a talisman against all the pain that assaults us in our daily lives, spurring us on when we would have otherwise already fallen.

A lot of INFP self-help advice centers on us changing ourselves. Sometimes this advice is good, such as the reminder to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, instead of only seeing things from our own perspective, or to lower our unrealistic expectations. A great deal of it, however, concentrates on becoming more objective, less mired in our own imaginations and fantasy worlds, to see the world from a more “realistic” perspective and, in doing so, fit “happily in” with the rest of society–all advice I vehemently disagree with, as they involve changing yourself to make your personality more conventional. And why should you have the obligation to make yourself more palatable for general society (that is, unless you must, in order to maintain a job)? What is wrong with being lost in your imagination? Or daydreaming? Or retaining a child-like, pure view of the world well into adulthood? What is wrong with seeming eccentric, and being avoided by others for seeming strange and odd, if it means you remain true to yourself?

As far as I can see, what we cannot give up, even if it is difficult being who we are, is our own individuality and authenticity. We should never, for the sake of acceptance, give up our own creativity, our unique perspective on the world. Butterflies may be delicate, and hurt and die more easily than other insects, but they are one of the most exquisitely beautiful creatures on Earth, and, as evinced by the faerie folklore present in cultures all around the world, by the power of their delicate wonder, lit the imaginations of thousands of humans throughout history.

We are, in short, the faeries of the world. Faeries might have it tough, their habitats ravaged by demons and other unworldly beasts, their senses easily influenced by negative energy, by hate and destruction; but they are the healers, the purveyors of magic and delight, and the world would be a much duller place without them. So it is with INFPs: despite, or in spite of, our suffering, we are often the ones who bring kindness, joy, love and boundless creativity to the world; and the people who appreciate what we have to offer, eccentricities and all, are the only ones worth bothering about. Our hearts are very, very strong—and that is all that matters.